12. John Chase
School: University of Texas
John Chase was basically the first black everything in Texas. Federal marshals shadowed Chase when he first arrived to the University of Texas in June 1950. At the time, the Maryland native and graduate of predominantly black Hampton University, didn't intend on becoming an icon of progress in race relations. He just wanted to study architecture at a prestigious school.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that UT was required to desegregate its graduate programs, the 25-year-old found his opportunity. According to Houston's Chron News, white faculty members were supportive of the aspiring architect, who would go on to become the first licensed black architect in Texas. Still, he had difficulty finding a job immediately out of school, so he started his own firm.
He went on to build homes, churches and union halls all along the Gulf Coast, and in nearby Austin. Later, he also became the first black president of the UT alumni group, and the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. We are all unworthy.